Matthew 6:22


The illustration seems to be this - We see only through our eyes. All the light that the body enjoys comes through that pair of delicate organs. Thus, as the means of bringing light to us, our eyes are our lamps. Now, if the two eyes are confused so that they see double, they distort our vision. They must form a single image between them for us to be able to see clearly. If worse should happen, and our eyes should be blinded, all the blaze of noon can bring no light to us. This is the physical analogue; let us now look at its spiritual counterpart.

I. CONSCIENCE IS THE EYE OF THE SOUL. It is to our spiritual nature what the organ of vision is to the bodily structure. It is the avenue through which light enters. A man without a conscience could know no spiritual truth. He might understand a multitude of facts about religion. The history of Israel and the biography of Jesus Christ might be very familiar to him. Doctrines of theology might be studied by him as systems of philosophy or theories of science are studied. But the knowledge thus acquired would not be spiritual. God would be hidden; the way of life would remain undiscovered. Righteousness and sin, faith and redemption, would be but names for abstract ideas; and the conception of these ideas would not help practically. But God speaks in the conscience. There his Spirit touches our spirit. There he impresses us with the force of moral distinctions, and draws us on to the better life.

II. CONSCIENCE NEEDS TO BE SIMPLE IN ORDER THAT IT MAY BE CLEAR. It is possible for the inward vision to see double. This will not happen so much when we seem to have a conflict of duties as when we confuse the very idea of duty with lower considerations. If we act conscientiously even when perplexed by a diversity of claims, we cannot make a very great mistake. But the terrible confusion arises when Conscience is not permitted to speak by herself; when she is interrupted by a babel of clamorous voices speaking out of self-interest, insisting on worldly maxims, and assuming wisdom and pleading policy. These interruptions are fatal to a sound decision. Conscience must be cleared of all accessories. We must look straight to one point. The one question for conscience is - What is right? It is absolutely necessary to keep this question simple by separating it from every other consideration.

III. THE PERVERSION OF CONSCIENCE IS THE GREATEST SPIRITUAL DARKNESS. He is in the dark who turns from the light; but far greater is the darkness of a blind man who cannot see in the light; and darkest of all is the mistake of one so deluded and demented as to take night for day, darkness for light, so that he follows darkness as a guide. It is bad to disregard conscience. Still, conscience remains, a warning beacon that cannot be utterly quenched, and we are aware that we are going without its guidance. Far worse is it to pervert the conscience. Better face a dark coast than the false lights of wreckers; better have no compass than one that will not point to the north; better be without a pilot than be steered by a pirate. The scribes and Pharisees darkened conscience with casuistry; Jesuits have been accused of doing the same; but our own hearts are our greatest deceivers. "Keep conscience as the noontide clear." - W.F.A.







The light of the body is the eye.
The man whose only object is to make good his eternity moves forward in an element of clearness, without the doubts which harass other men.

I. THAT WHICH WE MOST DESIRE WE MOST WISH TO KNOW ABOUT. Let a man be actuated by strong desire for salvation and he will never cease to inquire till he has found it. In proportion to the laboriousness of the search is the largeness of the discovery; the "whole body" is "full of light."

II. HE THAT HATH SINGLED OUT ETERNITY AS THE OBJECT OF HIS PURSUITH PROVES THAT HE HAS A JUST ESTIMATE OF ITS IMPORTANCE AS COMPARED WITH TIME. To our optics magnitude is reversed; but let it be seen in its just proportions and all the prospects of futurity are altered. This will bring justice and order into the whole perspective of being. What a view do we get of time if we measure it on the scale of eternity. This sweeps away a multitude of errors, and the whole body becomes "full of light." One principle will often throw light over the whole field of contemplation. We must not try to unite the interests of both worlds; this has more than a distracting, it would have a darkening, effect. Another mode in which singleness of eye entails light is by the reflex influence of obedience on faith. The more we prepare for heaven and the further we get on the way to it, the light grows brighter and brighter. Every accession of grace brings new light. The path of the just is as the shining light.

(Dr. Chalmers.)

The "eye" is "single," not because it sees one thing, but because it looks in one direction. It is a simplicity, not of the intellectual, but of the moral regards. It marks one ruling passion to which all others are pressed into subservience. A navigator may set his mind on the discovery of some distant region, and may repel all the temptations he meets with in his way; not allowing the luxury of one place, or the gain of another, to detain him. Here is singleness of eye; but yet he attends to the waters below, and to the firmament above, and to the compass by which he steers his course. Here the object is one, but its pursuit is illuminated by the light of many sciences.

(Dr. Chalmers)

I. WHAT IS MEANT BY "THE SINGLE EYE?"

1. It; implies the contemplation of one object. "One thing have I desired of the Lord." "One thing is needful."

2. Clearness of perception is implied.

3. Undeviating attention to the object of our view.

II. WHAT IS TO BE UNDERSTOOD BY THE FULNESS OF LIGHT WHICH IS SAID TO ATTEND ITS VISION? Light is an emblem of knowledge, happiness, usefulness.

1. Then Divine knowledge springs from the contemplation of God.

2. Light is an emblem of happiness.

3. Light is an emblem of usefulness.

(J. Curwen.)

1. Naturally: It is by means of the eye the body is directed in its avoidance of evil.

2. Metaphorically: Light is the emblem of happiness and joy.

3. Morally: Light applied often to the conscience.

(J. E. Good.)

I. The body has EYES to see with.

II. We have LIGHT to see by, as well as eyes to see with; the light is as necessary as the organ of sight. Vision is the result of a two-fold agency — Man's and God's.

III. The eyes are subject to DISEASE. Sometimes the eyes are intolerant of the light; sometimes they distort it so as to narrow or lengthen objects, and thus misrepresent them.

1. The mind has eyes — organs to see truth, to know realities in the world of thought; these eyes are understanding and reason. Furthermore, our natural eyes perceive the colour of objects as well as the objects themselves, so the mind has perception of the quality of action as just and beautiful, or the opposite.

2. But as the eyes are dependent upon light, so are our minds dependent upon the light God sheds upon us. Reason, conscience, need light. It is folly for a man to say he has no need of light, that his eyes are enough for him!

3. The mind's organ of vision is subject to disease.

1. As to the kind of it. To be in a room hung with pictures and not to be able to see them is grief; to be in a world filled with expressions of the Creator's power and love, and not see them is unutterable loss.

2. It is great in respect of guilt.

3. It is hopeless.

(W. I. Budington, D. D.)

I. THERE IS IN EVERY MAN A CONSCIENCE or practical judgment, A SPIRITUAL EYE OR LIGHT WITHIN HIM. Conscience is God's deputy.

1. Acts by His commission.

2. Dictates in His name.

3. Censures by His authority.

4. Refers us to His sentence.

5. Assigns us over to answer for all our actions at the bar of the Supreme Judge of heaven and earth.

II. CONSCIENCE IS A LIGHT TO DIRECT AND GUIDE US. It manifests and demonstrates itself in all the circumstances of human life by universal regard to present, past, and future action.

1. When temptation assaults and inclines to evil action, conscience is ready to interpose, admonish, and dissuade us from it.

2. When temptation prevails upon us, conscience resists, regrets, checks, and upbraids the undertaking, after the commission.

3. It objects, convicts, reproves, accuses, condemns, and afflicts us for it.

4. When occasion of doing good is offered, conscience incites, persuades, and encourages us to do it.

5. After it is done, it defends, approves, and applauds the action.

III. CONSCIENCE MAY ABUSE ITS OFFICE, MISTAKE ITS MEASURES. This eye may be evil, this light may be darkness.

1. Conscience may be perverted by false principles, prejudice, dangerous errors, and evil practices.

2. May err in its notions of truth.

IV. FOUR PRINCIPLES GENERALLY INFLUENCE HUMAN LIFE.

1. CHANCE;

2. SENSE;

3. CUSTOM;

4. TEMPORAL INTEREST.

V. THE GREATEST MISERY AND MISFORTUNE THAT CAN BEFALL, US, IS TO HAVE OUR CONSCIENCES DEPRAVED AND CORRUPTED. If the light within us be darkness, how great, how mischievous, is that darkness?

(Samuel Fuller, D. D.)

I. WHAT IS HERE MEANT by singleness of eye? It is being wholly decided for Christ alone.

II. The CONSEQUENCES of having the eye single.

1. There will be light in regard to God and His dealings.

2. There is light in regard to our own position and character.

3. There will be light in regard to revelation.

4. There will be light in regard to our own experience.

(W. Park.)

We are told that rope dancers, in order to steady themselves during their perilous feats, are in the habit of fixing their gaze steadily on some distant object, and that, if once they permit themselves to look upon the rope, or upon the sea of upturned faces beneath them, then they become dizzy and fail. If you ever tried to cross a stream on a log, you will remember that, by looking steadily at some object on the opposite bank, you were quite safe; but, no sooner did you begin to look at the log, or upon the foaming, dashing waters beneath, than you lost your balance and came to grief. And, in order that our conduct may be right, that in this world, so full of snares, and temptations, and pitfalls, we may walk aright, it is absolutely necessary that we fix our affections upon one object, and that object is Christ.

(W. Park.)

Why is it, my friends, that you have any doubt in telling which way the wind is blowing? or in what direction a river is running? Is it not because the wind is scarcely blowing at all, or always changing? and because the river is scarcely running, or running in opposite currents? Let the wind blow steadily in one direction, and you do not require to look at the vane in order to tell what is its point; and when the stream, swollen and turbid with mountain torrents, rushes down to the sea, bearing everything before it, you do not require to stand on its banks and think whether it is going this way or that. So let a man have thoughts, and feelings, and desires decidedly heavenward, let him be wholly decided for Christ, and he can have no doubt as to his own state; but, if he is today with Christ, and to-morrow on the side of the world, I should not at all be surprised if that man had many doubts and misgivings as to his acceptance with God.

(W. Park.)

I. The eye of our FAITH. Faith the eye of the believer's soul. This eye must look to Jesus alone, not to Christ and our own merits. If thou ernst be saved by these things the glory is divided. No!

II. The eye of our OBEDIENCE. There are professors whose eye of obedience is not single, they are for the world as for Christ.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

An old Puritan said, "A hypocrite is like the hawk; the hawk flies upward, but he always keeps his eye down on the prey; let him get up as high as he will, he is always looking on the ground. Whereas, the Christian is like the lark, he turns his eye up to heaven, and as he mounts and sings he looks upward and he mounts upward."

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

The human eye is the most striking feature in the human constitution; is closest to the soul; gleams with ethereal fire. As the eye must not see double, but must be single in order that the body may be full of light, so there must be no double mind if the Christian would not walk in darkness. Pure motives are the light of the soul.

I. It is the light of the soul because IT RELIEVES THE MIND OF DOUBTS CONCERNING THE PATH OF DUTY. If the soul be full of pure affection for God it will guide in the path of duty.

II. Because it relieves the mind of doubts CONCERNING RELIGIOUS DOCTRINE. Does its adoption glorify God?

(W. G. T. Shedd, D. D.)

I. EXPLAIN THE MEANING OF THE TEXT. There is a disparity between external light and the judgment of the mind; the former does not depend on choice. Obstruction in the eyesight may be a man's infelicity, it is not his fault. The evil eye is the disease of the mind, malignant and dangerous. We are to lay up treasure in heaven; we are in danger of such darkness or ignorance as shall make us insensible of our highest interest. We are liable to this self-deceit.

1. It is evident from the plain intimations of Scripture (Proverbs 16:2; Isaiah 5:20).

2. Instances within the compass of our own acquaintance.

II. THE MOST GENERAL CAUSE OF SELF-DECEIT IN THE AFFAIRS OF RELIGION IS SOME PREVAILING, CORRUPT PASSION. This leads to unfairness in these inquiries concerning duty.

III. THE MEANS WHEREBY THIS FATAL DISEASE OF THE MIND IS CONFIRMED.

1. False imaginaties.

2. Superstition.

3. Self-flattery.

4. Feeble, ineffectual purposes of future amendment.

IV. THE EXTENT OF THIS SELF-DECEIT. Learn:

1. To be watchful.

2. What is right will generally appear to our first thoughts.

3. Implore the aid of Divine grace.

(J. Abernethy, M. A.)

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